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Jump-rope related topics

Jump-rope rhymes
The Double Dutch DivasVideo on this page
Streetplay Jump-rope discussion area

Jumping rope: The leaps that know no bounds

Jumprope on the sidewalk
Click for bigger picture
Sidewalk Jump-rope at a 1999 NYC street festival.
When I was a small child my 30-something father, six and a half feet tall, cut an awesome figure in his long navy blue overcoat as he entered our courtyard on his way home from work in the evening. One who had never seen him before might have gasped as he approached, but we 5 and 6 and 7 year olds from the neighborhood broke into giggles. We knew what was coming, not just who, as we hiked ourselves up on tippy toe and turned that rope as high as we could get it. Even then, Dad would have to hold his coat up over his knees and bend over at the waist as he jumped (ne'er a miss) and sang his preamble to Teddy Bear Teddy Bear: "My mother, your mother lived across the way, 2-4-6 East Broadway; every night they had a fight and this is what they'd say..."

Just goes to show you the joys of Jump-rope know no bounds of age, size or gender. It's fun, plain and simple, and has caught the attention of kids of all ages through the years. It is in fact considered by some an art form and by others a sport, as demonstrated by The Double Dutch Divas, a group of women in their 30s and 40s who travel around the world performing their art, as well as The Heartbeats, a team of school-aged kids from Ohio who compete nationally. Last but not least, there's a group of young folks from Texas A&M University who are into a different kind of hip hop.

The history of jump-rope

Believe it or not, boys were the first to jump rope. Speculation has it, though, that as American families moved from rural areas to towns and cities, the girls got a handle on it, so to speak. With smooth pavements and more leisure time than their moms had back on the farm, they were able to put together the games and rhymes that we enjoyed as kids and passed on to our own kids. They seem almost precursors to soap operas with their neverending, whimsical, over-the-top plots that point to youthful concerns and fantasies. Rhymes had not been very popular among the boys; they were more into fancy footwork, tricks and maneuvers like crossing over and double jumping.

All in together girls, how do you like the weather girls?

The rules are simple and few. Jump-rope is a cooperative effort. Grab an end and turn in sync with your buddy turning the other end. Start a song or rhyme and invite your friends to "jump in" to the beat--i.e., stay under the rope, keep jumping to the beat and then jump out when the song is over. Step on the rope and you're out. Double dutch uses two ropes and is indeed twice as hard yet twice as much fun.

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